Three bands shaking the stars-and-stripes cliches of downhome Americana into kaleidoscopic miracles...
Stars don’t blush. They swagger, they growl, they shout and they scowl, but blushing means humility, and humility means nice. And there’s none of that in the rock’n’roll firmament, thank you. Lambchop, however, break rules like they break hearts, and Kurt Wagner, using his holiday from laying wood floors to bring his music to a world that needs it, is reddening as his band applaud him. This is a man who has a tap in every tear duct, a wire in every heart, who deals unflinchingly with depression and alcohol, with sex and death, who can sing “[I]this is depravity[/I]” on the beer-blurred ‘NO’, or tenderly detail a couple’s bed rituals in ‘The Saturday Option’. All that, and a crowd of people telling him he’s touched by genius still makes him blush.
Without it sounding like a Royal Variety Show, this is a special night. Three inseparable bands shaking the stars-and-stripes clichis of downhome Americana into kaleidoscopic miracles. Calexico, blown in from the Arizona Desert, knot tumbleweed round the heart and tighten ’til it bleeds. ‘Gypsy’s Curse’ and ‘Stray’ are spiked like 6ft cactuses, the Morricone twang blistering away to reveal new flesh, new magic. They stay onstage as Lambchop appear with Vic Chesnutt, and band borders shift like sand. It’s only the second time Nashville’s finest have appeared here in their entirety, and it’s as rare and lovely as unicorns grazing at King’s Cross, the horn section giving ‘Your Fucking Sunny Day’ a wilful bounce and suffusing ‘Lonely For Too Long’ and ‘Book I Never Read’ in a blood-warm glow. Then, backed by his friends, Vic untwines his delicate stories, and the sense of jubilant creation spills over the stage.
In their record sleeves, Lambchop encourage listeners to visit Nashville’s Country Hall Of Fame. Given this galaxy of gifts, someone should build a new wing. A planetarium, perhaps. For tonight, the anti-stars shine bright.